Weekly roundup: Cooking up vegetarian options in Fullerton, astronomy for visually impaired students, and more

A cooking competition in the Fullerton School District recently challenged students to create a tasty vegetarian option that will be added to the lunch menu in the fall.

The contest, which took place at Ladera Vista Junior High School of the Arts on May 21, featured six teams from an advanced culinary class, according to this story in the Orange County Register, which noted some important ground rules. Each meal had to include fruit, vegetables and a dairy item. They also had to meet the district’s nutritional standards, take no more than five steps to prepare, and cost less than $1.50.

Title for "In the news"The entrees were evaluated based on taste, originally and appearance by a panel of judges that included students, district board members, school staff and Superintendent Robert Pletka.

Pesto pasta, vegetarian chili, macaroni and cheese, and nachos were among the dishes served. But top honors went to a bean dip made from scratch with guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese. It was accompanied by freshly made chips.

“They were all so close to being number ones,” teacher Kristen Kristin Montoya told the Register. “We are so proud of this class. It’s beyond anything I’ve ever thought.”

The newspaper says students had previously expressed a desire for more vegetarian lunch options during a district-led focus group.

Here are some other stories we’ve been following this week:

  • An OCDE-led coalition of OC school districts, community colleges and ROPs has secured a sweeping round of new funding to strengthen career technical education programs, enhance career pathways and expand work-based learning opportunities for students.
  • State lawmakers are re-examining a California law that has long required public school teachers who are out on extended sick-leave to pay for their own substitutes, NPR reports.
  • An OCDE teacher who has helped hundreds of at-risk students prevail over overwhelming obstacles including homelessness, teen pregnancy and legal issues has earned one of the state’s top honors for alternative education teachers.
  • More than 240 business leaders, influencers and representatives from the Orange County Department of Education joined local girl scouts for the Voice for Girls 2019 forum at the Newport Beach Country Club. The May 10 event focused on advancing diversity and gender equity, as well as understanding subconscious mental biases.
  • Amid the worst measles outbreak in two decades, a bill that would further tighten California’s strict school immunization laws sparked a heated debate in the state Senate, where it passed 24-10. It now heads to the state Assembly.
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